Tag Archives: brands

A sad day for branding, a sadder day for brandy – Osborne gets a makeover.

The Osborne group has announced that it will stop using the black bull as its corporate logo. The Sevilla-based group wants to signal its shift from being mostly a brandy and sherry producer to its current emphasis on products such as water, fruit juices and Iberico ham. It has commissioned a new corporate logo from a Madrid design studio, which is still under wraps and will be launched later this year.

While the fearsome 14-meter high bulls will remain dotted around the Spanish countryside, they will be even further divested from meaning. One more nail in the coffin for this iconic piece of Spanish advertising design, created in 1956 by Manuel Prieto of the Azor agency. The first bull, 7 meters high and made of wood, went up near Madrid in November of 1957. From the early 1960s the bulls were made of metal sheet and were 14 meters high. By the 1970s there were more than 500 bulls across Spanish territories, not just on the Iberian Peninsula but also in the Canary Islands, the Balearics and North Africa.

In 1988, new national transport legislation makes publicity billboards that are visible from the roads illegal, and the word Osborne that was written in red across the existing bulls is removed. By 1994 the Spanish government wants to bring them all down, but many autonomous communities, municipalities and pressure groups fight to save them. In 1998, the Supreme Court grants them mercy, stating that the Osborne bulls have moved beyond their original advertising meaning, having become part of the landscape and a Spanish cultural icon.

The Osborne bull has also left an interesting trail of political associations. As an icon of Spanishness it has been taken over by the conservative right, and prompted the design of  an alternative animal national icon by Catalan nationalists, in the shape of the Catalan donkey. No Heritage listing in sight for that one!

It was also used by Spanish soldiers posted in Irak, both on the national flag and to decorate the barracks.

There are currently 97 bulls left. And now that they are one of the great stories of Spanish graphic design, declared objects of National Heritage, film icons (in Bigas Luna’s 1992 Jamón, Jamón, the bull shares screen time with Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz),  Osborne wants to give them up, because they link the group too closely to its past as a sherry wine producer. Would Nike give up the swoosh? Would Macintosh give up the Apple? And all for the sake of branding bottled water and fruit juice?


Barcelona, third most attractive European city

Only London and Paris beat Barcelona in the tourist seduction game, according to a recent report by Saffron, branding guru Wally Olin’s and Jacon Benbunan’s consultancy. The three cities are also ahead of the pack in constructing and maintaining a strong and attractive ‘brand’ in the minds of tourists, visitors and investors.

Paris emerges as Europe’s number one city brand, followed by London, Barcelona, Berlin and Amsterdam. The study, entitled ‘The City Brand Barometer’ and created by London-based Saffron Consultants, ranks 72 of Europe’s largest cities based on a comparison of their assets and attractions against the strength of their brands.

The study highlights

the contrasting fortunes of Barcelona and Naples – two potentially comparable cities in terms of regional significance, yet the Catalan capital has trounced its Italian rival in projecting a distinctive idea of what it stands for and who it’s appealing to. The southern Italian city is rich in good climate, history, culture and gastronomy but it has devoted little time to creating a reputation among Europe’s cities.

To rate the cities, Saffron established a series of pointers that measure what they call ‘City Assets strength’, based on the most desirable attributes. These are:

● Pride and personality
● Distinctive environment – landmark buildings, facilities, public transport
● Ambitious vision, with good leadership and buoyant economy
● Worth going out of the way to see
● Easy access and good public transport
● Conversational value – it is fun to talk about Paris but not Bradford
● Location – it is somewhere special or a centre for an interesting area

One of the most interesting aspects of the study, however, is the distinction between ‘real’ assets and brand strength. Some cities have a brand visibility that is greater than their real assets would suggest. Berlin comes out as a strong example of that, but it is also the case with Barcelona:

Berlin has a 137% Brand Utilisation rate; Stockholm 118%; Prague, Liverpool and Amsterdam 115%; Barcelona 112%; andParis 111%. For all of these cities, their brand is better than their assets would predict (even if the Assets are strong), meaning they are selling a story above and beyond an urban experience.  What does this mean? If you are a city with an over 100% Utilisation rate, it means you are successfully selling your image as well as a reality. It means that through your history and culture you have fostered an aura about you.


There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since the heady days of Naomi Klein’s No Logo. Lately, the general trend in cutting-edge consumer culture business thinking has been that the new generations of consumers are a savvy bunch, tricky to reach and brainwash, highly articulate in the art of navigating safely the stormy seas of corporate branding without getting their gear wet.

Rob Walker begs to differ. He has been writing the ‘Consumed’ column for the New York Times magazine for the last few years, a clever and perceptive take on 21st century consumer culture. His work has been described as a mixture of cultural anthropology and business journalism. His latest book, Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy And Who We Are, explores the industry’s response to try and reach the post-No Logo crowd, a subtler, more insidious technique that Walker calls ‘Murketing’: murky marketing. So if you’d like to get updated on what’s been going on since viral marketing was the latest thing (1997!), this is probably worth reading. In any case, Walker’s book is set to become the latest pop-psychology business bestseller – we’re so beyond The Tipping Point.

You can read the Introduction here, courtesy of Random House.